July 18, 2008
Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) gave us a third-quarter report last night, with predictably unimpressive results. But the financial report was not the big news of the night from the microprocessor designer. CEO Hector Ruiz is now an ex-CEO -- there's a new sheriff in town.
Say hello to former COO Derrick "Dirk" Meyer, who now takes the CEO position while Ruiz steps aside to become executive chairman. Dirk has been groomed for this succession move for several years, so the choice is no surprise. He is also very well-qualified for the job after co-architecting Digital's Alpha processor and leading the Athlon design team. Previous experience also includes a three-year stint at Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) .
The timing of the leadership change does raise some questions, though. Angry investors, large and small, have been asking for Hector's head on a silver platter ever since the Barcelona release schedule started slipping some 18 months ago. And like I said, the quarterly report was pretty bad -- a $1.19 billion net loss, or $1.96 per diluted share, on $1.35 billion in sales, compared to a $1.09 loss per share on $1.31 billion of revenue a year ago -- but AMD investors have come to expect numbers like that these days. So why step down now?
The official explanation is that we've reached the end of a two-year plan to install Dirk at the top. It's probably closer to the truth just to say that Hector's time was up, though. Wall Street and Main Street alike have had it with the missteps and underperformance of the last two years. I'm guessing that Dirk's responsibilities and workload have quietly increased recently, behind the scenes, and that his influence is part of the reason why we've seen more mistakes and product delays from Intel and NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) than from AMD this year.
Dirk's first order of business is to deliver "sustained profitability through a focus on the core technologies that differentiate AMD." It's back to chip design and manufacturing 101, with a consummate engineer replacing a businessman at the helm. It's the right move for a technology business, and I think that Dirk will serve AMD well for many years to come. If you agree, here's your chance to share a bit of his success story -- AMD's stock is 12% cheaper today than last night.